Shahr-i Sokhta

Shahr-i Sokhta (Burnt City) is an archaeological site and an urban settlement of the Bronze Age which is located at a distance of 60 km from the city of Zabol in Sistan and Baluchestan province in southeastern Iran. This ancient city was one of the world’s largest cities at the dawn of the urban era and dates back to the 4th and 3rd millennium B.C. It covers an area of 151 hectares with a vast graveyard measuring 25 hectares in the western part of the site. The graveyard contains between 25,000 and 40,000 ancient graves.

 

The site of Shahr-i Sokhta was first excavated by Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente in 1967, and continued until 1978. The work was resumed at a much later time by the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization team. On the basis of the discoveries from this area, the city was a hub of trading routes that connected Mesopotamia and Iran to the Central Asian and Indian civilizations, even as far as China.

 

The settlement which appeared around 3200 B.C. had four stages of civilization before being abandoned in 1800 B.C. During Period I, it shows close connections with the sites in southern Turkmenistan, and Kandahar region in Afghanistan, and the Quetta and the Bampur valleys near Heermand River and Hamoun Lake. And it also had connections with the Proto-Elamite cities of Khuzestan and Fars in Iran during this period. During Period II, Shahr-i Sokhta was in contact with the pre-Harappan centers of the Indus Valley in eastern Baluchestan, and the contacts with the Bampur Valley continued.

 

Shahr-i Sokhta remained under 20 centimeters of thick layers of ash and dust for 4000 years before it was discovered. The climate of the region is dry desert which helped preserve the remains of this settlement. For many years the common belief was that the ancient city was burnt down three times, leading to the decline of its civilization. But the reason for its destruction still remains a mystery. Nevertheless, findings from the settlement demonstrate no evidence of any scorching or wars. It was an industrial place with skilled people who achieved a great deal of development and advancement in civilization. They were experts in many arts like goldsmithing, metal work, jewelry making, wicker work, and pottery making. They were also proficient in architecture, farming, animal husbandry, and fishing, and used furnaces and fire. Thus, the designation of the name ‘Burnt City’ was due to the piles of ashes found in the settlement. No traces of war or armament were found to prove the demise of this civilization was the result of a scorching. The inhabitants were peaceful people and they had no fortress or walls around their city.

 

Archeologists have discovered 100 mounds and thousands of graves and many interesting artifacts in the settlement, including pottery vessels with drawings, seals, and a human skull indicating that brain surgery was practiced at that time. The world’s earliest known artificial eyeball was found here, which was placed inside the left eye socket of a woman.

 

Shahr-i Sokhta

Shahr-i Sokhta (Burnt City) is an archaeological site and an urban settlement of the Bronze Age which is located at a distance of 60 km from the city of Zabol in Sistan and Baluchestan province in southeastern Iran. This ancient city was one of the world’s largest cities at the dawn of the urban era and dates back to the 4th and 3rd millennium B.C. It covers an area of 151 hectares with a vast graveyard measuring 25 hectares in the western part of the site. The graveyard contains between 25,000 and 40,000 ancient graves.

 

The site of Shahr-i Sokhta was first excavated by Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente in 1967, and continued until 1978. The work was resumed at a much later time by the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization team. On the basis of the discoveries from this area, the city was a hub of trading routes that connected Mesopotamia and Iran to the Central Asian and Indian civilizations, even as far as China.

 

The settlement which appeared around 3200 B.C. had four stages of civilization before being abandoned in 1800 B.C. During Period I, it shows close connections with the sites in southern Turkmenistan, and Kandahar region in Afghanistan, and the Quetta and the Bampur valleys near Heermand River and Hamoun Lake. And it also had connections with the Proto-Elamite cities of Khuzestan and Fars in Iran during this period. During Period II, Shahr-i Sokhta was in contact with the pre-Harappan centers of the Indus Valley in eastern Baluchestan, and the contacts with the Bampur Valley continued.

 

Shahr-i Sokhta remained under 20 centimeters of thick layers of ash and dust for 4000 years before it was discovered. The climate of the region is dry desert which helped preserve the remains of this settlement. For many years the common belief was that the ancient city was burnt down three times, leading to the decline of its civilization. But the reason for its destruction still remains a mystery. Nevertheless, findings from the settlement demonstrate no evidence of any scorching or wars. It was an industrial place with skilled people who achieved a great deal of development and advancement in civilization. They were experts in many arts like goldsmithing, metal work, jewelry making, wicker work, and pottery making. They were also proficient in architecture, farming, animal husbandry, and fishing, and used furnaces and fire. Thus, the designation of the name ‘Burnt City’ was due to the piles of ashes found in the settlement. No traces of war or armament were found to prove the demise of this civilization was the result of a scorching. The inhabitants were peaceful people and they had no fortress or walls around their city.

 

Archeologists have discovered 100 mounds and thousands of graves and many interesting artifacts in the settlement, including pottery vessels with drawings, seals, and a human skull indicating that brain surgery was practiced at that time. The world’s earliest known artificial eyeball was found here, which was placed inside the left eye socket of a woman.

 

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